Surviving Depression

Some posts, like my last one, are so easy to write. The words and images flow to the page in no time. This post isn’t one of those. I’ve pondered it for weeks on end. How do I say it just right, so that I don’t look like a crazy person do the topic justice? Will I say it right? Will I embarrass myself? My family? The cats? They would never forgive me.

I am just going to stay in this tiny little ball and pretend the world doesn't exist. M'kay?

I am just going to stay in this tiny little ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist. M’kay?

So here goes, for better or for worse. I have experienced depressive episodes for most of my life, for different reasons. I know now that I have a congenital liver disorder that can affect my whole body, including my moods. The psych symptoms are the hardest to deal with, and it doesn’t help to remind myself that these feelings aren’t “real,” that they are a biological reaction to a missing enzyme. It also doesn’t help to remind myself that I should be grateful for what I have. I can’t be grateful for my beautiful family when all I can remember is how I have let them down. I know I have a great job, two of them, actually, but I can’t think about it without thinking of all the balls I have let drop or how I could be better.

Depression is a beast. It’s a paralytic. I cannot appreciate the big things because they are just too, too big, a shadow looming overhead. Sometimes in the thick of it, I need the little things, things small enough to hold in my paralyzed hands. So there you go. My tiny things.

Kittens. Forever and ever and ever. Ravenclaw and Pandora are sometimes what keeps me going. I can put one foot in front of the other if I know that in an hour or two, I can cover myself in baby kittens and peace out.

Pandora says she just can't even, ya'll.

Pandora says she just can’t even, ya’ll.

And they sleep beside me, and they keep me company, and even when they are grown up cats, they will be my refuge. Ravenclaw’s love language is a game called “Imma trip you until you pick me up and hold me like a little baby.” And Pandora’s is “Imma lick your eyeballs in the middle of the night.” I don’t even have to think about whether or not I deserve their love. Deserve it or not, they’re serving it up.

My plants. I might have a problem, you know. I have a green thumb, and I LOVE to grow things. The only tiny wrinkle here is that I only have one window for winter when all the plants come IN. And five cats. F-I-V-E cats. But my plants help me to keep going.

The more complicated it is to grow a cultivore, the more I like it. Maybe when I have success with the tough ones, it proves I can do something right, despite the voices in my head to the contrary.

Harry Potter. And it doesn’t bother me at all to say it. I love being in a world that has Harry Potter, and even NEW Harry Potter things. And I can cos-play with the best of them. I won an award at The Cursed Child book release party. Best Costume Overall. I feel proud to be a part of it. (If you click to enlarge the images, you will see the Playboy mags on the shelf behind me)

Cherries. There are cherries in the world. I guess they are out of season now, but that means it will be less than a year before they are BACK on shelves.

I couldn't find a license-free image of cherries, and they are not available now. so I drew you some.

I couldn’t find a license-free image of cherries, and they are not available now. so I drew you some. I am a giver.

Friendship in unexpected places. We had a Harry Potter event at the zoo, and I had too much work to do and couldn’t participate. But the people running the event didn’t want me to miss out. They made me a magic wand. With Slytherin sparkles and a ribbon that looks like snake-skin. I am humbled every time I look at it.

The photo doesn't do it justice (I used a point-and-shoot). It is a thing of beauty.

The photo doesn’t do it justice (I used a point-and-shoot). It is a thing of beauty.

This might be the beginning of a series. Out of curiosity, how do you keep going when things get tough?

 

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49 thoughts on “Surviving Depression

  1. You seem to have a deeper understanding of yourself and what is going on. This is wonderful as awareness is the key to changing beliefs. Take a step back and realize just how naturally you practice mindfulness. You are aware of the issue.. which tells me you are closer to happiness than you may currently see. Go get it girl! Visit http://www.thefrozenorangesociety.com for more advice and reach out if you need anything! – Kristen

  2. Oh my friend. Thank you for the hand-drawn cherries. You are indeed a giver! And now I sorta feel disappointed with every cosplay photo that does NOT have Playboys in the background.

    Every time I hear someone describe what depression feels like, I feel deep compassion–and an odd sense of “there but for the grace…” Because I can’t remember experiencing anything similar (all my diagnoses of “depression” notwithstanding!). I am glad you have kittens. And a wand! I am glad you are talking to us about it. I hope we can ease the shadow’s thickness, next time it comes. ❤

  3. I’ve gone through something similar with the anti-cancer drug I’m on, along with the double whammy of throwing me into menopause. When I switched drugs in the fall, I felt like myself again. Yay! Aaaaand then it came back as an affect from the new drug. That pit in my stomach wouldn’t go away.

    Vitamin B’s helped a ton, but my kids said it was toxic in high doses, so I stopped. When I asked my doctor, he said B’s are water soluble. I started again and it really helped.

    I also went to a yoga festival where I learned all about negative thinking. You can find those posts about “flying” and “letting go of negative thinking” on my blog.

    It’s terrible to go through, but making your happiness list made me happy too!

  4. When you are down, do something nice for yourself, like take a bubble bath. I used to get depressed every January. I couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized that my sister died in January. The first 5 years were the hardest but now I can usually make it through January ok. I remember when my sister died I was so angry. I watched a movie called “Eraser” and I felt better. Swartzenhager erased all of his enemies. Death is an enemy. Some day God will erase death. Then there was the time I attended a funeral for a loved one who died at a young age. She was only in her 50’s. Her sister remembered that her favorite flower was a yellow rose. Shortly after the loss, a yellow rose grew unexpectedly in the garden. It was a comfort to her. One time a dragon fly comforted me. I thought he came by as a little fairy to cheer me.

    Another time for grieving for me were the first years I came down with fibromyalgia. I would walk into the drugstore or department store, spray myself with all of the sample perfumes, and enjoy the smells. (My daughter gave me several little samples of perfumes for a birthday as she knew what a comfort good smells were to me.) Another comfort was when I listened to my favorite music. (Pandora is great. I can add every kind of music.) A video from from the movie “Braveheart” touched my heart when a little girl gave a thistle to a little boy who had just buried his father. The composer of the music, James Horner, was killed in a plane crash in 2015. What a loss. We can appreciate the music he left behind and the gentle scene from the movie. I pray a lot too. I ask God to take this yucky feeling from me. I know some day we will never suffer like this because of what Jesus did on the cross for the world.

    Also, I want to thank you for encouraging me to get a Kindle. I got one for my birthday from my family. Now I can check out all the novels from the library without leaving home. I always check out the books that I know will have a happy ending!

  5. It’s hard to discuss someone else’s depression without sounding cliche` or uncaring – the old “I’ve never been depressed, but I know what you’re going through and here’s some advice” . . . . but I was depressed when I was younger – in my late teens and early 20’s, (I’m 63) and I remember thinking that life wasn’t going to be much fun if I had to live it like this. My oldest brother committed suicide at age 23 and I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it past 23 because we were so much alike. But then, 2 things happened that changed my life – one was my husband of 41 years now. He had the most cheerful disposition of anyone, genuine, goodhearted, sparkling hope reeked from him. Looking back, I see why the Lord gave me this man and I am forever grateful.
    I remember struggling to get to sleep at night, terrifying thoughts of doom and gloom, what if’s and fear would keep me awake for hours, only to disappear in the morning light. My husband could fall asleep mid-sentence within a minute of hitting the pillow. I was so jealous! Finally, one day I asked him, “How do you sleep when there’s so much stuff going on? How do you turn it off like that?”
    He smiled and said, “I figure it will all be there in the morning so I need to get my sleep and be refreshed and ready to deal with it then!” And that was true – it was all there in the morning, looking pretty puny in the morning sunshine. I realized I was looking to myself to juggle and solve all these feelings and problems and that I was basically mocking God, who told me to “Cast all your cares upon me, for my shoulders are strong and I can lift that for you” (paraphrase, obviously). Why didn’t I trust Him to carry it? I gave it to Him and truly trusted Him to work things out. Burdens lifted, feeling lighter and more positive about life.
    The second thing was, I remembered someone from my past that NEVER said anything unkind about anyone and was always joyful – that was my Pastor when I was a little girl. We spent weeks at his house during the summer with his kids and visa versa, and he was always so full of joy. Our lives inter-twined until his home-going at age 95! He was the most unpretentious and humble man I ever knew. I knew the Source of his joy was Jesus Christ, and I realized that I could choose joy! No matter my circumstances, I could choose joy – knowing that Christ knew my beginning from my end and was working my life out for my good and His glory!
    My life has not been easy, but it has been joyful. And you! He gave you cats to comfort you – not just any standard cat, but the ones that know how to love you up and bring you joy! Thank Him for your cats and for your family, jobs, friends, etc. . . everytime you turn around – thank Him! A grateful heart is a cheerful heart.

    • My kittens are a never-ending reminder of God’s grace and never-ending mercy. Even when I don’t feel deserving, there they are, sleeping on my feet, licking my eyeballs, chewing on my power cord. He is good to us, indeed!

  6. What do I do? Run, read, write, cry (not necessarily in that order, or any order, for that matter)

    Thank you for opening up. It helps to realize one is not alone.

  7. Oh, I am so sorry. They say one must suffer for art — don’t know if that’s true — but perhaps that is why your writing is so insightful, gentle, humorous, and always touching. Sometimes you make me laugh out loud. I LOVED Ravenclaw and the werewolf!

    Although I don’t believe I get depressed, I do sometimes wonder if I’m making any difference at all and sometimes I find myself saying harsh things to myself. I don’t think that is depression — I think that is just life. I wish I had answers, but I don’t. Prayer works for me and sometimes I’m so down and annoyed at myself that I don’t even want to pray, but that is the time when I need to the most.

    I love your writing and always look forward to reading your posts. You are gifted.

  8. You are doing so many things right. If it’s kittens and HP, then load yourself up with kittens and HP. Do whatever gives you even slivers of joy. I’ve been blessed with only episodic depression (my chronic deal is anxiety, well-managed with Prozac), but there is a lot of depression in my family and my heart goes out to you.

  9. There is so much I want to say and at the same time I’m not sure what to say. Please know I hear you. I am not a depressed person, but I have recently dealt with a prolonged period of depression. There never seems to be just one issue involved. Since I can’t stop other things from happening, I have been trying to focus on getting myself in the best condition to deal with them and bounce back. I have found that food is a HUGE factor for me. Severely limiting processed foods (sooo incredibly hard to do!), especially sugar and empty carbs (ice cream!) makes a tremendous difference in my mental and physical functioning. It is difficult to adequately describe how well I feel when I succeed with this alone and how much it helps with all the rest… Getting enough sleep — also sooo incredibly hard to do! Letting go. I can not be all things to all people. I can not be the best me all the time. I can not expect more than that from others. Focusing on the good before the bad (yes — animals, plants, pictures of both)… Exercising… Yeah, I know. This is a never ending process. But it is a good process and makes for a better life and we are worth it!

  10. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your heart in this manner. I don’t get depressed but I do get deeply saddened if betrayed, treated disrespectfully, or hurt in any gazillion ways that humans can be mean. Prayer is a huge heart-healer for me. Exercise. Sometimes prayer and exercise at the same time. Of course, chocolate. When all else fails–chocolate!

  11. Oh how I hear my own soul in your words! I too suffer from Dementors, and have done throughout my life. I’m also a cat gal! Pets have an amazing ability to just know when you need them nearby … when you’re feeling sad … I love how you seem to really know yourself … you are able to sense your moods, and you know what makes you feel okay … I think this is a crucial component of dealing with depression. I look forward to reading more. x

  12. Again, catching up still… but see, your posts are still on my mind, and in my box. No deletes here. Others have said it all, I suppose, but I want to note that you have lots of support from others of us who really GET IT. It’s a beast. And it also seems to find very creative people. Thanks for sharing your inner demons; it helps us all feel more like the village we are. xox

  13. Your writing is fantastic! I love the sarcastic humor. When we’re dealing with these things, finding something to bring humor into is so important. And the cats, love them!! They say those of us with depression and anxiety are actually extremely intelligent people…………..I agree;)

  14. Cats can heal more than you think, and your two need and want you in their lives, just as my two do. Sometimes they’re all that get me out of bed in the morning, but that’s OK because I’m strong enough for them if not myself.

    • I know therapists say we have to want health for ourselves, not for others, but I think it’s necessary at times to focus outside ourselves and do it for someone else because it’s too hard to do it for ourselves. Peace be with you.

  15. I totally get what you wrote. It’s comforting (maybe in a sad way) to know that there are people out there who understand what it feels like to have it all, yet feel like you have nothing at the same time.
    There are many times when I want to cut again, and I honestly believe that seeing blood flow would make me happy (even for a while). The only thing that helps at that time is God; belief in Him. So I guess that can help you too.
    I also believe in the power of your blog, and the people who appreciate what you write. They’re a unique source of motivation and comfort. Moreover, you have that unconditionally.

    • You know, because I keep reptiles, I have TONS of UV bulbs. I might need to set up some grow lights. We moved a bakers rack into my middle son’s room, and I can keep the plants relatively safe from cats. I will be an unstoppable force of nature!

  16. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It could be difficult to open up about things like depression. But you did. I hope you know how strong you are. And you listed awesome things that cheer you up! Stay strong.

  17. You know, I’ve been dealing with episodes of depression every since I was a young teen. About 14 years later, it comes and goes. This is a beautiful piece, because you have an understanding of why, and even the why can’t stop you from feeling it still. However, even on your worst day – you are a beautiful soul that is perfect even without that specific enzyme. While it may not seem perfect, you are alive, and experiencing beautiful things and beautiful people (like the ones you didn’t want you miss out on the HP event). You are so lucky!

    Stephie
    http://www.dearonlinediary.com

  18. I recently found out I have RA on top of degenerative disc & joint diseases, and two types of scoliosis. The depression is definitely the worst part, it’s something I’ve always struggled with, but I find it so much more difficult now, especially being a mother now (she’s 2). Thank you for posting this. 💖

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